iHateRadio: Radio Rant

With the 2014 iHeart Music Festival going on soon, I decided it would be a good time to say that I hate radio…..

the-end

Nah, nah. I kid….Sorta.

As a person who spends a lot of time in the car and doesn’t have the money or the patience to pay for monthly “satellite” radio services, I spend a lot of my morning commute listening to FM radio, which I’m sure a lot of you do. I mean, I can say that I hate radio but that is not the truth. I hate MODERN commercial radio and what it has turned into. Let me give you a little anecdote.

Dawn of the First Day

I get into my car in the morning and turn on my car.

The newest song comes on. “Oh yeah! I love this song.” I say and I start jamming out to the song. Everything is fine….

Dawn of the Second Day

I get into my car in the morning and turn on my car.

“Didn’t this song come on at the same time yesterday?” I say and I start jamming out to the song. Everything is normal…..

Dawn of the Third Day

I’m worried the same song will come on again, so I turn on my car and cut of the radio. I drive down the road and I’m stuck in traffic…

It’s like my arm is possessed. I reached for the on button, and guess what comes on?

“AHHHH” I scream, and cut of the radio.

Later that night, I turn on my car.

3 minutes pass, and what song comes on?

“Hmmmmm…” Frustrated, I turn off the radio and silence fills the car as I drive the lonely dark streets.

“Maybe if I change the station, I’ll have better luck?”

I turn on the radio and change the station…”Oh…My..God…the song….it keeps coming back…Why in God’s name does it keep coming back!?”

Then the moon fell.

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the-end

Nah, nah. I kid. The moon didn’t fall.

But aside from my haunting tale of the song that follows me, this perpetual cycle of top 40 songs day in and day out is the majority of the reason why iHateRadio.

Now, I do have to recognize that radio has been around for a while and has done some great things over the years. It is a huge industry that has made 17 billion dollars in revenue, current annual growth is 1.9%, and employs 103,436 people, according to IBIS World. (1)

For decades, radio has provided programming to listeners free of charge, introducing its audiences to new types of music entertainment and new recording artists. It is widely believed that radio stations, record labels, and recording artists enjoy a
symbiotic relationship; meaning, the record industry utilizes radio to promote its artists and music to hundreds of millions of radio listeners, while radio attracts listeners and advertisers by airing recorded music. Also, radio’s music promotion is understood to stimulate the purchase of recordings, merchandise and concert tickets by the listening audience. The radio also provides royalties to the recording studios and artists.

However, because of the profitability of commercials and advertising the station owners found themselves increasingly beholden to sponsors, who began taking over complete shows, then buying radio stations from which to launch media empires. This type of sponsorship lead media cause a big problem. Station owners were no longer willing to lose ratings over spinning new records or breaking new artists because of all the money that was at stake if people didn’t tune in.

At this point, market research was the main way to decide what was safe to play. And to divide up that profitability risk, bigger radio stations send promo songs and new songs and artist to college radio stations and MTV as test marketing. The music rating from college radio was a good and safe indicator for bigger radio stations of what was now deemed “popular”. Bigger stations take these ratings and makes an arbitrary roster of “hot” songs, old or new, repeated ad nauseam in a blatant effort to “hook” the listener long enough for exposure to the ad.

And thus the reason why my morning commute is feeling a little bit like Groundhog Day.

groundhog-day-bill-murray-smashes-alarm-clock

Some radio station can even be as impatient for the next ad as to cut entire sections of the song and/or speed up the song, making the song sound in a higher pitched key. Ever wonder after 1 month of hearing a new song on the radio you all the sudden can’t match pitch with Katy Perry. Well…

With that elephant in the room taken note of, I think I will leave you with this.

I do like music on top 40 stations and commercial radio. There can be some interesting songs and artists that make their way on there.

Recently, I have heard Be Okay by a band called Oh Honey. It was good hearing them on the radio, considering I saw them live as an opener to one of my favorite bands, The Fray, as part of their Helios tour, which by the way is an awesome album and does not disappoint. But I wish there was more of a chance taken with new artists and new songs on all radio stations.

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I’m still hearing Lights by Ellie Goulding on these “new” stations, which was released back in 2010. Even radio stations that claim they play everything only play “pop” songs from the 80s, 90s, and today.

If radio is truly made to advertise the artists and grant them exposure, this should apply to other artists and not just what the sponsors deem as “popular”.

So be ready to hear All About that Bass and Shake It Off as you use Maps while swinging on a Chandelier and hunting an Anaconda, because you will be hearing those for the next 5 months.

And as always, stay thirst my bros.

Sources:

1. http://www.ibisworld.com/industry/default.aspx?indid=1258

2. http://www.billboard.com/charts/hot-100

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